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Pineys

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Hi Guys, I am new to this forum.
I have come across this forum a lot however in my search for the solutions to my brewing questions.

I have been brewing now for a little over a year, mostly extracts and mini mash.
I am encountering some challenges with my latest brew which i would like some advise on.

I brewed 2 x MJ IPA kits 17 days ago on the 2nd May in to 2 separate fermenters.

I used the MJ pure malt enhancer and .5kg of dextrose as an addition to try to increase the ABV.
Pitched 1 x 10g M44 (U.S. WEST COAST YEAST) in to each fermenter dry at 18deg. SG 1.055

I kept the wort at 18 deg from pitching and it took near on 3 days before i witnessed any activity. I was worried about this but a quick search on the googles soon revealed this was a common experience with this yeast and not too much to worry about.

Good action in the airlocks for a few days after this then one fermenter completely stalled while the other slowed right down to nothing. I took a grav reading on both they were about 1.045 at this stage. no sign of infection and tasted ok but sweet for obvious reasons.

I spoke with Brewcraft about the issue and it was suspected yeast may have not been in good condition as i had the kits stored in my shed for a few months and possible warm weather.

I got another 2 x M44's and set them aside in case i wanted to re-pitch.

Life got in the way at this point and i thought i will come back to it later on as i didnt see an issue with that, since no signs of infection and the fermenters all sealed up etc..

Between now and then i was checking the temps and it was steady 18-19 deg and the second fermenter airlock was bubbling every now and then.. so minimal activity there and the completely stalled fermenter airlock fluid was level the whole time (zero action).

Last night i decided to do another grav reading on both fermenters (16 days after pitching) to my surprise they were both around 1.025-30 I need them below 1.020 to dry hop.
I decided to pitch the new M44 re-hydrated. I put both packs in to separate jars (clean) and about 2 inches of RO water @ 20deg to re-hydrate.

I expected to see some action in the jars but not so. a few hours later I decided to just put them in the fermenters and X my fingers.
I took pics while i had the lids off for visual reference.

1621400929570.png
1621400963408.png

The one on the left is a bit more of a mess as i did try to agitate it after it stalled.

This morning both airlocks are bubbling every 20 seconds or so. which is more action than before pitching the new yeast.
They are just stored in my spare room to ferment and the weather here at the moment is keeping them perfect 18deg.

No strange smells and the taste is fine to me.

What could be going wrong here?? if anything? I would have expected this to be well done by now and half drunk.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions/advise.
 

Vini2ton

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Seems like you're on top of all the basics. Except about the proper storage of brewing ingredients. If you are confident of your sanitation, package and put it down to a lesson learnt about storing yeast, in the fridge until needed.
 
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yankinoz

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Vini's advice is good. I'd go further and note that using kit yeast is an act of trust in your supplier. Usually it works fine, but not always.

FYI: activity does not move water in an airlock right away. After the lag phase, carbon dioxide first saturates the wort, The colder the wort, the longer that takes.
 

MHB

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I think what we are sneaking up on is Never Trust an Airlock to tell you what your brew is doing, that the job for an hydrometer.
You can never be sure that the lid or the airlock grommet are perfectly sealed so its quite possible for a whole brew to go from start to finish without glooping once and still to have fermented fully.
Mark
 

Pineys

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Thanks for the comments, I agree airlocks are not a good indicator of what is happening. It certainly seems like these kit yeast can be hit and miss. Is there a better way to go? Ive only brewed Kits (They are easy) and not really looking to do full grain yet.. one day!
 

yankinoz

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Thanks for the comments, I agree airlocks are not a good indicator of what is happening. It certainly seems like these kit yeast can be hit and miss. Is there a better way to go? Ive only brewed Kits (They are easy) and not really looking to do full grain yet.. one day!
I've been to brew shops that keep kits on shelves at room temp, but their loose packets of dry yeast in the fridge. If that is true of your source, you can better trust the loose packets. As for liquid yeast, instructions say it must be kept refrigerated.

I'd say find out how long your supplier keeps kits, and where. Have separate dry yeast in the fridge as backup. For that purpose US-05 and BRY-97 are all good, Notty too at lower temps. Look for a use-by date well into the future.

But don't panic and toss in the backup too soon. Dry yeasts are usually packed with more viable cells than the label indicates and steadily lose cells, faster at room temp. The more fermentables, the more yeast needed. I don't know the MJ enhancer or kit, but going for higher gravity and pitching old yeast is likely to lead to a long lag time.
 

Pineys

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Thanks Yankinoz, This is my first go with the M44, All of my previous brews were with US-05. When using US-05 if i pitched in the afternoon i always had action in my airlocks that evening. I had a few issues with stalling on the US-05 which i never got to the bottom of. Its been a few days now since i re-pitched the M44 and i will check the gravity this evening. Hopefully i have saved these batches. Looking forward to filling my Keg (After some dry hopping) I have never dry hopped before either so i am excited to see how that goes. Thanks for the comment.
 

Grmblz

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@Pineys Just a quick bit of advice, check out https://www.lallemandbrewing.com/docs/products/bp/BEST-PRACTICES_REHYDRATION_DIGITAL.pdf
particularly "Please Do Not - Do not use distilled or reverse osmosis water, as it will result in loss of viability." and "Sprinkle the yeast on the surface of 10 times its weight in clean, sterilized water at 30-35°C (86- 95F)."
From your original post it appears you used too much, too cold, RO water, it might help explain the yeast performance.
 
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Pineys

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Thanks @Grmblz Thats great information. To be clear I use non filtered water in my wort. I was advised when I first started that the calcium is required for a good brew for some reason, I don't remember the particulars. My logic with using the RO was to reduce the chance of infection while re-pitching. But duly noted for future. Cheers
 

Grmblz

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No worries, in recent times with many advances being made, dried yeast management has become a bit of a minefield with different manufacturers advising different procedures. I find it best to check the individual web sites of whichever yeast manufacturer I'm using, and pretty much ignore all the you tube "experts" and the old school "this is the way we've always done it" dinosaurs. A lot of money is spent on R&D by the yeast people so I figure they have a fair idea of the best way to treat their babies.
 

Pineys

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Tonight, I measured gravity and 1.018 for both fermenters. I soaked my hop bags in stellar san along with a few marbles, tipped in Simcoe 15 g, Citra 15 g, Nelson Sauvin 10 g. Dropped them in the fermenters. Now I cross my fingers and hope for a good outcome.
I was thinking I will keg it on the weekend. How long would an experienced dry hopper leave these hop bags in?

So far this brew has been going for 23days.
I had a good smell and a taste from the hydrometer tube. seems all good to me. Exciting!
 

Grmblz

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Rule of thumb for a dry hop would be 3 to 5 days, but there's a LOT of variables.
You're really just aiming for aroma/flavour with dry hopping and 40g isn't a huge amount so imho O2 pickup will be your biggest hurdle, can you pressure transfer into purged kegs?
As you've already noted it's been a long road, 23 days for a 1055 is a rather long time, still it may work out just fine, fingers crossed.
 

Pineys

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with o2 being the enemy in mind. I normally purge sanitizer from my kegs with co2 then pressure transfer from the fermenter to the kegs. then ill blow off the headspace in kegs 3 or 4 times. That should suffice? What would I be looking for/tasting if I suspected o2 pickup?
Thanks
 

Grmblz

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That procedure is perfect, blowing off the head space is probably overkill but certainly wont hurt. I didn't know if you could pressure transfer.
Off flavour/aroma caused by oxidation varies enormously dependant on the amount of O2 pickup and also the ingredients used in the brew.
The classic is described as wet cardboard, but that's a fairly extreme case, in my experience it's more about what you can't taste/smell, the beer seems a bit dull/lifeless, the biggest casualty I think is the hops, long before you get to the wet cardboard stage all the hoppy goodness is pretty much gone.
I'm sure there's folk here that could give you a detailed explanation of the chemistry involved, but I'm no chemist. A few years ago when O2 pickup became the latest "thing" I split a batch (IPA) and used similar to your method for one half, and no precautions (my usual method at the time) for the other half, both beers were drinkable but the low O2 was clearly superior, to the extent that if I hadn't done it myself I would have sworn they were different brews.
There's many ways to skin a cat of course, and depending on style you might actually want some oxidation, barley wine's spring to mind, then there's the transfer to keg with a few points left and dry hop the keg (this approach is fraught with danger btw) It's the beauty of the hobby, so many things to try.
 

Pineys

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Just reporting on my outcomes here guys! Turned out ok in the end. FG 1.017 I kegged it up and have been drinking it for the last few weeks. I am glad it wasn't a drain job. I had a few others around for tasters and all have gone to the tap for refills.

For me, Its "ok" for a few pints after work while i am cooking dinner. (Slight metalic taste on the first glass) ABV seems good. Nice colour. Dont get any hop aromas but bitterness is good.

Anyhow, Thanks for the above support. Cheers
 
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